Irate villagers at Chonde in Mulanje on Sunday evening descended on property of Olendo Chaponda, nephew to former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda, on suspicion that he was sheltering suspected bloodsuckers at his home.
Police have since arrested seven people in connection with the matter and charged them with malicious damage and breaking into a building and committing a felony therein.
In an interview on Tuesday , Thyolo Police Station spokesperson Fredrick Maida said the villagers were alerted about the presence of “bloodsuckers” in Nkulira Village in Luchenza, allegedly at Olendo Chaponda’s residence.
The people then mobilised themselves and went to Olendo Chaponda’s house where they smashed windows and beat up a security guard before proceeding to his maizemill where they also wreaked havoc, according to police.
Said Maida: “They forced their way inside the house where they found nothing. They then went to one of the maizemills belonging to [Olendo] Chaponda which is a short distance from the house and they smashed everything and stole maize kept at the maizemill for people waiting for power.”
Olendo Chaponda on Tuesday said people are jealous of his success as he has always been a hard worker and a committed member of the community since he moved to the area in 1979.
He said: “As a citizen, there are many forums that would have been used and not just coming straight and attacking me and my family because they have no proof. They would have gone to police, for instance. My family is traumatised; they have experienced the worst things ever.
“I have lost property worth close to K10 million and I now fear that if I live in my mansion I will be killed. I am just a farmer and a businessperson.”
Olendo Chaponda further said the campaign against ‘bloodsuckers’ should not be used as justification for people to take the law into their own hands.
Cases of alleged bloodsuckers resurfaced last month in Mulanje where three people, including a woman, were burned alive by an angry mob on suspicion of being a part of the alleged blood sucking syndicate.
On Sunday, people in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mabuka in Mulanje also beat to death two men whom they suspected to have been members of the so-called ‘bloodsuckers’ syndicate, barely three days after a mob killed village head Mchanga of Nsanje on similar suspicions.
The latest incident of violence in Mulanje brought to six the number of blood sucking related deaths.
The deaths have since attracted criticisms from human rights activists who have accused the government of not doing enough on the matter.
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director Timothy Mtambo on Tuesday said government must treat the matter as a crisis, emphasising that apart from innocent people losing lives, such killings are bad for the country’s security narrative.
Other areas where incidences of alleged bloodsuckers have surfaced are Phalombe, Thyolo and Chiradzulu.